Ice cream’s recipe for success not a big secret in difficult times

By Robert Klara


Worried about a double-dip recession? Why not have a double dip on a waffle cone, instead? Never mind that 9 percent of us can’t find jobs and recent college grads might as well use those liberal-arts degrees as wallpaper. The local ice-cream shop is doing just fine. (In fact, maybe they’re accepting resumes!) The National Ice Cream Retailers Association recently told Time magazine that some of its members have clocked sales spikes of 25 percent over last year. Unilever, which owns sweet and drippy brands like Good Humor and Ben & Jerry’s, posted Q1 ice-cream sales up 7.4 percent. You don’t need an MBA to figure this one out: Ice cream is an affordable way to feel good when everything else sucks. Enough said. This might explain the spate of branding news on the ice-cream front lately.

Starbucks, which started chillin’ last year with the introduction of an ice-cream line, just rolled out its eighth flavor on July 23. (It’s Peppermint Mocha, and with a MSRP hovering between $3.89 and $4.39, it’s cheaper than some Starbucks drinks.) We’ve got no moles in the Starbucks test kitchens, but the company seems to know exactly what it’s doing with this pint-size strategy. The flavors, which include Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and Strawberries & Crème, not only stick to Americans’ perennial faves (yes, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are still the most popular varieties according to the International Ice Cream Association) but carry the same drink names you’ll find on the Starbucks beverage board. (Psst, it’s called consistent branding.) Seguir leyendo “Ice cream’s recipe for success not a big secret in difficult times”

Will Cotton: Butcher, Baker, Candyland Maker


by Ariston Anderson
Some critics say that the measure of good art is deciding whether or not you’d want to hang a particular piece on your wall at home. If that’s the standard, artist Will Cotton sets the bar quite a bit higher – and puts a cherry on top. His candyland fantasy canvases create entire worlds that you want to dive right into – or, at the very least, nibble on.
But these otherworldly paintings spring from a very down-to-earth process. One that begins with research and some unorthodox baking: it could be creating a giant cake, setting up an ice cream mountain in his shower, building a gingerbread house and deconstructing it in the rain, or molding candy ribbons into a crown.

We visited Cotton in his Chinatown studio for a conversation about the realities behind whipping up a candy-coated dream world and the importance of authenticity when it comes to engaging your audience.

Do you work seven days a week?

Sometimes I have trouble not working. But no, I force myself to take weekends off. That just means I’m not in the studio. Usually Saturdays I go to look at art, and you could say that’s working. Sundays I really don’t do much, and that’s super important. I know artists who don’t do that, and I think that makes them a little crazy.

Do you get a lot of inspiration just looking at current art in the city?
I do. And it’s a funny thing because sometimes it’s sort of negative inspiration. I just hate everything I see and it makes me think, wow I’m really good, and I’m on to something. And then other times it’s really quite the opposite. I think this is so amazing. I have to go back to my studio and try to rise to the occasion. I think that dialogue is super-important. It’s a dialogue because I come back to my studio and respond to what I’ve seen.

Is it important to always keep drawing?

I can have an idea that I’ve been tossing around in my head for a long time. But as soon as I start drawing it, working with it, I’ll know almost immediately whether it’s a good or bad idea. But as long as it’s not formed, I never know. I guess my advice is just start working on it, a pattern, a thought, and see where it goes. And be willing to let it go nowhere. There are a lot of ideas that just have to die.

What’s the biggest challenge in your paintings? The beginning? The ending?
It’s actually the middle. The start and the end are actually the most fun. I’ve found that it’s that third week in a six-week painting where I’m thinking, “Where do I go from here?” Seguir leyendo “Will Cotton: Butcher, Baker, Candyland Maker”